Tuesday, March 16, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 16 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 350,506 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 702) and 5,135 deaths.
► From Crosscut — Washington is reopening but many essential workers aren’t vaccinated yet — There was little disagreement when it came to giving health care workers and nursing home residents priority for vaccines. But as supply continues to increase, states have been forced to make increasingly tough ethical decisions about who gets the shot next. In Washington, a confusing system of tiers and eligibility has left some groups feeling left out.
The Stand (March 5) — WSLC thanks Inslee, state DOH for expanding vaccine eligibility — As supplies increase, WSLC continues to press for ALL essential workers to be eligible.
The Stand (March 3) — WSLC: Vaccinate all public-facing workers
► From the NY Times — As Biden confronts vaccine hesitancy, Republicans are a particular challenge — The administration is seeking help in urging Republicans to get inoculated. But Biden said he was not sure how much value there was in enlisting his predecessor.
► From the News Tribune — Union to protest lack of COVID-19 safety at two MultiCare clinics this week — A fresh round of union action is planned this week as a union representing MultiCare urgent care providers continues to press for changes regarding COVID-19 safety in the workplace. Informational pickets to protest working conditions are planned March 16-17 at two MultiCare Indigo clinics, involving physicians and providers represented by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists. The pickets will take place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the following sites:
- MultiCare Indigo Puyallup, 15125 Meridian Ave. E., Suite 102, Puyallup
- MultiCare Indigo James Center, 1812 S. Mildred St., Suite H, Tacoma
► From the PSBJ — Alaska Airlines recalls more than 400 pilots as it readies for travel surge — The SeaTac-based airline made the recalls because it wants to be ready for an expected surge in air travel following mass COVID-19 vaccination efforts and, it hopes, declining infection rates in the Western U.S. and Alaska.
► From the Bellingham Herald — Longtime Bellingham customer service center to hire 80 workers in coming months — T-Mobile, which has a customer service center near Bellis Fair mall, is planning to hire the workers over the next five months. The Bellingham call center currently employs 517 people.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Inslee signs order to get students back in classrooms — Gov. Jay Inslee signed an emergency proclamation Monday requiring public schools to give students in all grades a chance to return to classrooms for in-person instruction by the end of next month. The order is legally enforceable and violators could be subject to criminal penalties. But the governor said last week the aim is to work with districts on reopening schools, not to punish them.
Our educators have been creative and have worked diligently to provide the very best for all their students, including remote learning, but it is clear that there is no substitute for in-classroom learning. It is time to return to the classroom.
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) March 16, 2021
► From the Skagit Valley Herald — Bill that would phase in overtime pay for agricultural workers moves forward — A measure requiring employers to start paying farmworkers overtime over a three-year phase-in period is moving forward in the state Legislature. With bipartisan support, the Senate voted 37-12 on Tuesday to pass SB 5172.
The Stand (March 10) — State Senate approves 40-hour work week for farm workers
► From the Columbian — Statewide eviction moratorium expiration looms — Almost exactly a year ago, on March 18, Gov. Jay Inslee made it temporarily illegal for landlords to evict their tenants over an inability to pay. Since then, Inslee repeatedly has extended the moratorium, sometimes with just a few hours to spare. Each time, Mychal Jones held his breath. Currently the eviction moratorium is scheduled to expire March 31.
► From Crosscut — Is this the year Washington state starts a public bank? — A bill moving through the state Legislature could set up a public bank to address our vast infrastructure needs.
— AFL-CIO // Pass the #PROAct (@AFLCIO) March 16, 2021
► From The Hill — Julie Su is the right No. 2 choice to help lead Biden’s Labor Department (by Andrew Stettner) — Su’s experience, expertise and tireless dedication to helping working Americans make her the perfect candidate to serve as deputy Labor secretary in Biden’s administration.
TODAY at The Stand — Support champions of workers to lead DOL
► From The Hill — No. 2 Senate Democrat torches filibuster — Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the upper chamber, torched the legislative filibuster on Monday, arguing that it is undermining democracy. “The filibuster is still making a mockery of American democracy. The filibuster is still being misused by some senators to block legislation urgently needed and supported by a strong majority of the American people,” Durbin said during a floor speech. He added, “This is what hitting legislative rock bottom looks like.”
► From the AFL-CIO — Senate rules cannot be used to block a Workers First Agenda — The Workers First Agenda — investment, democracy and economic justice — is the agenda that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris ran on. It is the agenda that working people have fought for. And it is the agenda that our nation voted for. It is an agenda that cannot be delayed or denied. The very survival of our democratic republic is at stake. And standing in its way is an archaic Senate procedure that allows the minority to block the majority—the filibuster. An artifact of Jim Crow. A creature of white supremacy. A procedure that was said to encourage robust debate but has turned into an instrument of government paralysis. A tool used by those seeking to preserve the social, economic and political status quo, that the AFL-CIO has long opposed, as a matter of principle as undemocratic and rooted in racism.
► From Jacobin — No, the PRO Act wouldn’t ‘kill’ freelancing (by Brandon Magdon) — A small but vocal community of freelance writers have taken to social media platforms to signal their opposition to the bill’s inclusion of the so-called ABC test… An employment test that presumes employee status is not only compatible with our nation’s labor code, it is the only test appropriate to carry forth this legislative mandate.
► From The Hill — Democrats move smaller immigration bills while eyeing broad overhaul — As the jockeying ramps up over a comprehensive immigration bill, House Democrats have scheduled votes this week on two smaller reform proposals: one offering citizenship opportunities to farmworkers; the other to extend those benefits to people with temporary protected status and the so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally as children.
The Stand (March 15) — Tell Congress to begin fixing our unjust immigration system
► From The Hill — Dems’ momentum hits quagmire over infrastructure plans — The goal could test Democratic unity due to razor-thin margins in both chambers and early signs of contention over how to pay for the spending, including talk of a tax hike, and whether the bill should be narrowed in order to make it bipartisan.
► From the Washington Post — What you should know about USPS — and how it descended into crisis — Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is days away from announcing his plan for the Postal Service to restore timely service and solve more than a decade of financial problems.
TODAY at The Stand — ‘Imperfect storm’ has eroded faith in the U.S. Postal Service (by Mark Dimondstein) — Postmaster General Louis DeJoy must be held accountable, but understaffing and turnover also play a role.
► From The Hill — Senate confirms Haaland to lead Interior — The Senate on Monday voted to confirm Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to lead the Interior Department, making her the nation’s first Indigenous Cabinet secretary.
► From the NY Times — AFL-CIO urges Biden to ban solar products from Xinjang — The labor group said that the global solar supply chain was deeply embedded in Xinjiang, and that products made with forced labor should not be used to meet the United States’ climate change needs.
► From the NY Times — How Amazon crushes unions — Five years ago, Amazon was compelled to post a “notice to employees” on the break-room walls of a warehouse in east-central Virginia. The notice was printed simply, in just two colors, and crammed with words. But for any worker who bothered to look closely, it was a remarkable declaration. Amazon listed 22 forms of behavior it said it would disavow, each beginning in capital letters: “WE WILL NOT.” “We will not threaten you with the loss of your job” if you are a union supporter, Amazon wrote, according to a photo of the notice reviewed by The New York Times. “We will not interrogate you” about the union or “engage in surveillance of you” while you participate in union activities. “We will not threaten you with unspecified reprisals” because you are a union supporter. We will not threaten to “get” union supporters.
Amazon posted the list after the IAM accused it of doing those very things during a two-year-long push to unionize 30 facilities technicians at the warehouse in Chester, just south of Richmond. While Amazon did not admit to violations of labor laws, the company promised in a settlement with federal regulators to tell workers that it would rigorously obey the rules in the future. The employee notice and failed union effort, which have not previously been reported, are suddenly relevant as Amazon confronts increasing labor unrest in the United States. Over two decades, as the internet retailer mushroomed from a virtual bookstore into a $1.5 trillion behemoth, it forcefully — and successfully — resisted employee efforts to organize.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article could be headlined: “Why we need the PRO Act.”
► From the Washington Post — As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic — Tens of thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers received at least $80 million in government assistance during the coronavirus pandemic — making them among the largest groups of beneficiaries of a little-known government grant and loan program established to help small businesses weather severe economic disruptions… New data shows how workers in the gig economy relied on a hodgepodge of government programs to stay afloat during a severe economic disruption. More broadly, it reflects how a new economic class of workers was left to rely on the social safety net at the same time Big Tech added billions in value and fought regulation that would require gig firms to contribute more to social programs.
► From Roll Call — Yes, the pandemic crushed carbon emissions. Now they’re back. — Experts predict emissions will jump as COVID-19 inoculations increase and warn of what lies in wait if they continue apace.
► From the Washington Post — REIMAGINE SAFETY (a project of the Editorial Board, in conversation with outside voices) — The country has reacted to past moments of perceived or actual rising crime with punitive criminal justice policies based in fear and lack of imagination. They haven’t worked very well. This time, let’s do the reverse: Let’s use rising crime as a spur to rethink public safety in a way that could make all communities more livable. Let’s embrace a new approach to public safety and invest in the tools to deliver it. At this critical juncture, the nation could fall back into a familiar cycle of mass incarceration and aggressive policing. But there is a better option. Instead of creating more “million-dollar blocks,” it’s time to “eliminate the conditions in which most crime breeds.” This time, we can do better, and we must.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.